Sophean Phuoeng

Portrait of Sophean   Phuoeng

Phuoeng Sophean ភឿង សុភ័ណ្ឌ (23 April 1958, Siem Reap - 6 Oct. 2020, Phnom Penh) was a Cambodian architect and statesman who initiated the restoration of the Iron Palace at the Phnom Penh Royal Palace in 1991.

A son of a renowned Siem Reap architect, he developed a special interest in architectural and archaeological matters related to Angkor and Phnom Kulen, perfecting draughstmanship under the supervision of Jean Boulbet and working as a young volunteer at the Angkor Conservation.

After escaping the Khmer Rouge regime to Thailand and to France, he obtained his diploma in June 1986 at Grenoble Faculty of Architecture, and worked as a junior architect with architect Didier Repellin in Lyon.

In 1988, he decided to move back to Cambodia and started a successful career, designing public buildings such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, teaching at Norton University, and serving as Secretary of State of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, General Secretary of the Cambodian Association of Architects (CSA), and Dean of RUFA Faculty of Architecture.

A close friend of Boulbet and Francois Bizot, he was instrumental in planning and organizing the shooting of the documentary "La riviere sacrée aux mille lingas" [The Thousand Lingas Sacred River] (by Francoise Demulder (1947-2008), Philippe Flandrin and Stéphane Meunier, 45 min, Capa Productions, 1998) in which Boulbet, who had discovered the Kbal Spean site twenty years earlier, appeared.

Young Sophean (left) at the Angkor Conservation with Jean Boulbet near him, Bernard-Philippe Groslier (center) and a Cambodian researcher, before the civil war (collection Canal Jean Boulbet).